Heather Has Two Mummies – book review

By Lesléa Newman Illustrated by Laura Cornell

Published by Walker Books ISBN: 9781406359404

Review by Derek Brazell

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Lots of children have one parent, lots of children have two parents, and lots of children have two parents of the same sex. All of these kids need to read, or be read books such as Heather Has Two Mummies. Recognition of what makes up a family unit have continued to progress since this picture was first published with different illustrations in 1989, but children still benefit from being presented with their own realities (two same sex parents), or those which are different from their own family experiences.

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Little Heather is having a great time with her two mums. They’re preparing her for her first day at school, which soon comes up. In the classroom the children discuss their families and what jobs their parents do, which results in the teacher suggesting they all draw their own families. The resulting mixture of family units is diverse and entertainingly presented in the artwork.

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The exuberant watercolour illustrations from Laura Cornell really come into their own in the school scenes, with the kids tucking in to their creative exploits, full of character and expression. These keep a lightness of touch to the whole book, which should allow questions from curious youngsters to arise naturally. On viewing the children’s painting of their families, the teacher’s conclusion, that all types of families are special and loving each other is the important thing, is no surprise to adult readers, but surely an observation that deserves repeating.

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Kristin Pekoll, assistant director for the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told CNN that Heather Has Two Mummies has been challenged 42 times by legislators and parents wanting to remove it from local and school library shelves. Varoom 29 contains an article on challenged children’s books, with comment from the illustrators and writers.

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